Imagine for a minute the perfect day.

You’re able to get up early for some quiet time for yourself to do something creative or active or blissful — something that brings a smile to your face and a skip in your step.

You’re able to spend some high quality time with your smiling, laughing children, just like the well-meaning studies say you should.

Maybe, if you’re lucky, you’ll be able to spend some romantic time with your partner learning something new or having a deep conversation or even being intimate.

You’re able to get some significant things done in your work and home – successfully crossed off a few items on the to-do list like dishes, laundry, mopping, dusting, folding, wiping and putting away.

You go to bed early with plenty of time to take care of yourself and your body before you get a full eight hours — or more — of sleep.

This is a good day. This is ideal. We all want this day. I don’t know any mom on this planet — and I work with moms around the world — who doesn’t dream of a day that flows just like this.

Except this is not the reality for most busy families.

This is the goal. The dream. The vision. The hope.

Just this week, Brigid Schulte, author of “Overwhelmed: Work, Love and Play When No One Has The Time,” wrote about a new study  that argues that quality time trumps quantity of time with our children.

In other words, to be make the biggest impact on our kids’ lives in a positive way, we just need to spend a little meaningful time with them.

So why is it so hard?

Even the most well-intentioned parents can get to the end of a day and realize they didn’t take time to stop and spend meaningful, quality time with their children.

The truth is that many families are too busy just trying to survive — to get by in this world full of distractions and obligations — let alone know how to balance the just right amount of quality time with their children.

What derails a peaceful, calm and happy family day like the one described above?

  • Too Tired
  • Too Busy
  • Parents in Bad Moods
  • Cranky Children
  • Too Distracted
  • Rushing from one thing to another
  • Being unable to agree on what to do together as a family
  • No Interest in Playing

With so much technology and so much to do, families easily get caught up in a chronic state of busyness. I see it with so many of the moms I work with. And getting out from under that load of extreme busyness is hard to do.

 

How to Make Quality Family Time A Priority

 

You Can Turn Quality Time Into Your Fun Time

My favorite part of the Abundant Mama Project Online Program is always the fourth week, when we focus five whole days on discovering and creating playful routines, rituals and traditions in our families.

Why is that always my favorite week?

Because it’s the week I see the most transformation that truly impacts the whole family.

It’s the week moms who in their first week said “I hate to play” or “I’m too tired to play” get totally re-energized about motherhood and family life because they realize they can take really good care of themselves and also have really fun times with their kids — in a way that is enjoyable to them.

Sure, we’re parents and we still have to “play dog” sometimes or sit in the pretend classroom as a pretend student.

Those moments are important for a child.

But so are the lower key kinds of moments that aren’t really defined easily.

My favorite moments are the ones when I’ve slowed down long enough to stop and listen and look. When I’ve waken up to what is happening around me. And when I’ve fully embraced motherhood for what it is in that very moment — a gift.

Once busy moms begin to change their mindsets about motherhood, family life and playful living, we start to understand the following:

Once we get really good at slowing down, waking up and finding our happy place, quality family time comes naturally much more of the time. And those ideal kinds of a days we long for are easier to create and plan because there is simply less distractions to keep us so preoccupied.

Those ideal days become more the norm rather than the pipe dream.

 

How to Make Quality Family Time A Priority

Here’s A Few Ways We Have Made Quality Family Time A Priority:

We Put Our Schedules On A Diet

I say no more than I say yes. To a lot of things. At least things that would take away from a peaceful, present and playful family life experience. We’ve tried busy and sometimes there’s a real case for busy, but mostly busy doesn’t work for us. We’re highly sensitive people and we need lots of down time and space and quiet.

So we put our schedule on a diet and eliminated everything that wasn’t good for our family’s health — such as obligations that require long nights away and more than one extra-curricular activity at a time for each child.

We’ve gone even farther than that, though.

My husband worked hard to get a job closer to home to save a bit on his 60-minute commute time. And, in 2013, I quit my full-time job to work-from-home leading this project so that I would have more quality time with my girls after school — something I value greatly.

We Limit All Tech Distractions — Even For Adults

TV is a NO at our house during the school week and that also means most other devices for the kids aren’t welcomed either.

We’re not perfect by any means but we mostly live without screens and devices in almost all our family time. (Some of us are better than others. Ahem.) But when we’re out to dinner in a restaurant, we’re not on our phones. At least I’m not.

When we take a walk, we leave the phones out aside from some photo taking. (We love photos. Taking them. Posing for them. Looking at them.)

Why is this important during family time? Because when you’re looking down and focused on other people’s lives and messages and concerns, you’re not looking up and into the eyes of those around you. And looking at my husband and my children in their eyes and fully listening to them, to me, is the most meaningful quality time we can offer.

Of course, as children become teenagers, connecting meaningfully through screen-time and video games may be important for some. But for us it’s a distraction to real quality time that fosters conversation, connection and creativity.

We Stick To Our Family Traditions

We’re a busy family that sticks to our word – and our family rituals and traditions.

Our Morning Hang Out time began when our girls were little and we stick to it faithfully even on our busiest mornings.

Hang out time can last up to 10 or 15 minutes and it’s the most important part of our day. Well, followed closely by our Bedtime Hang Out Time … the time when we gather early before bed and hang out either to read together on the bed, enjoy a read aloud book that someone’s reading or meditation.

By keeping our word and keeping a tradition, we’re not easily able to get out of doing the most meaningful things together that are creating amazing memories for our family — not just for our children. Our daughters really look forward to these family traditions and as long as that’s the case we’ll stick with them.

Quality time isn’t about how fancy you can get or how much money you can spend.

It’s about connection — a chance to look at each other and listen for what is said — and what is not said. It’s about being here for when suddenly the heart just needs to share.

Quality time is about making memories. So if you make just one new memory a day, that’s a really great start.

How to Make Quality Family Time A Priority

 

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